Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Look what I found


Yes it was $6. No I couldn't help myself. It was delicious (how could it not be)...I am too impulsive.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

OUAB Southern Comfort Cooking Class

One of the great things about going to an enormous school like OSU is that they have so many students to cater to, so everything is organized and they have lots of fun resources for students to take advantage of...even cooking classes. They offer themed cooking courses, in which they go over the steps and then split you up into teams to tackle a set of recipes, and then you can eat the food after you're done making it.

Look that that test kitchen...cray. I wish I had taken better pictures of each individual station, which was perfectly outfitted with all the tools you would need that day. They even wash and prep most of the ingredients for you, and clean up afterwards. I was in heaven.

Theme of the day was Southern Comfort. I was tricked into thinking we were making fried chicken, so I had to deal with the disappointment. Chicken pot pie turned out to be delicious.

The menu (clockwise): chicken pot pie, "kale" collard greens, cole slaw, and rice and beans. I was in charge of the kale and it turned out to be the only dish that we didn't have leftovers of!

 Dessert: chocolate pecan pie O_O So bad but so good...

 Some of our cooking it wasn't just the three of us. That would be too much food.

One day, I will own a little version of this babe *sigh*

Recipes for the dishes that were my favorite that day...more for my reference than for yours really...


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Look for those moments that make you feel alive

This is yet another piece of writing I really enjoyed and wanted to share (last one I posted was here, this is turning into its own series). You may not understand some of the references since it's by one of my favorite columnists for my college news magazine, but I think the piece can resonate with everyone. By Tracy Faud, published in North by Northwestern.

In my 9 a.m. first-year language class, seven of us are repeating the Arabic word for yes, “na’am,” over and over until it blends into a murmuring sea of num-num-num-num. In the strange and unfamiliar world of a foreign language, we cling to the words that enter easily into our consciousness, such as the affirmative “yes,” enthusiastically reassuring our professor that we understand the lesson. Despite my many na’ams, I’m unsure of what I actually comprehend when I glance at the whiteboard, my eyes ensnared by the looping, dotted script, but my mind incognizant of its meaning, not having spent the time to sound out each letter slowly in kindergartner fashion.

By the time we reach college age, we take for granted the familiarity of our surroundings. We become numb. I practically take pride in not being fazed by much, in being a bit blasé. I can receive scathing e-mails and shrug them off, skim an article about genocide while chatting about last weekend’s exploits over lunch and be reminded of my mortality during my creative nonfiction class just to forget about it seconds later.

But right now, madly tapping at my laptop on the ground floor of Norris, distracted by the snippets of Jerry Springer that seep through my music (though it’s turned up all the way), I’m worrying. I know I have to finish this column and make it cohesive and most of all make it ring true, whatever that means. People talk about the winter doldrums, but that has nothing to do with what I’m feeling. I’m not sad; I just feel like I’m floating, like maybe I’m just a shade too removed. That close to some understanding I’ll never reach because it’s 10:49 a.m. and if I give in anymore to this clenching fear that this is nonsensical and nobody will relate, I’ll be late to class. I can’t help but wonder if this is really what I’m supposed to be getting out of college; out of being young and living in a world teeming with possibilities.

So I’ll shut my laptop and go to lecture, and forget whatever existential thoughts were haunting me near the Crepe Bistro, because it takes something jarring to shake me from this languid nonchalance these days. An especially vibrant sunset, an unsettling conversation, the startling foreignness of Arabic, that’s what it takes. Or perhaps a particularly collegiate moment in class, when I can feel my brain making the bridges and grasping a novel concept, all the implications shimmering ephemerally, my thoughts taking up an almost physical presence above my head in the auditorium. But these moments of profundity at college seem few and far between. Most of the time, I feel like I’m missing the point, just narrowly. I’ll craft a perfect argument for a paper, only to feel the ideas turn to shapeless gel in my head, the meaning slipping away into the realm of forgotten concepts, perhaps never to be revisited. I’ll comprehend only half of what’s said in Arabic class, and miss the guest lecture on the conflict in Gaza that I truly, genuinely care about — I think. I can’t help but wonder if this is really what I’m supposed to be getting out of college; out of being young and living in a world teeming with possibilities.

In the overly familiar humdrum that is our daily life, I end up spending a significant amount of time thinking about what to wear, where to eat, when I’ll run into the latest object of my fickle affection, and most of all how to cross off the next item on an endless, banal to-do list. Sometimes it’s as if I live without really living, and I guess that will always be the temptation — to scrape by, just barely, to scribble down un-thought-out answers in my Arabic homework, to shove my dirty laundry further into the dusty recesses of my closet and churn out another cutesy column, week after week after week. And by and by, this is largely how we manage. It’s a survival mechanism. But there are also those moments when I feel the brisk air on my cheeks a bit more acutely, really appreciate the infiniteness of the sky, and feel my heart pounding with Presque-vu, that fleeting almost-epiphany that’s always at the periphery of my vision.

I know this is something that I will realize and unrealize and re-realize over and over again. There will always be moments when the Arabic I’m trying to read is only a tangle of guttural sounds swirling out of reach, and nothing more. But, once in a while, I drag myself out of bed early to walk on the Lakefill, or I spend an hour laughing with friends at dinner, or I meet someone who dreams really big and makes it happen. These are the times when the letters and words dance in the breeze, quivering gently. This is when everything makes sense, if only momentarily. And this is when I’m most alive.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lemon Cream Tart with Raspberries

So I'm pretty good at making desserts, if I do so say so myself. But rarely do most recipes come across looking great. Most of the things I make do not look great, and if they did, then I would be posting a ton more because I cook for myself almost every day and I try new things all the time. But this little guy, omg. I love Tartine bakery in SF, and while I didn't try their lemon tart the last time I went, it's kind of a big deal. They're widely regarded for this, and I volunteered to make dessert for a kick back so I figured I'd try their recipe and wow. The great thing is that this was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat, and it looks pretty darn good.

Recipe from Tartine Bakery's Cookbook

  • Pie crust (you can follow the recipe in the link above, but I just used a store bought graham cracker crust and it was great)
  • 1/2 cup plus + 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed/strained lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs and 1 yolk, at room temperature
  •  3/4 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 pint fresh berries (I used raspberries, blackberries would be lovely too)
  • Sprinkle of confectioners' sugar
In a bowl, combine lemon juice, eggs/egg yolk, sugar, and a pinch of salt, and beat together really well. The original directions say to use a double boiler setup, but I don't have a big metal bowl so I just cooked the mixture in a small saucepan at really low heat on the stove while constantly stirring. The mixture is done cooking once it thickens (you would note a sudden texture change), which should take above 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-20 minutes or so.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. If you plan to use an immersion blender to blend in the butter, then strain into a large bowl. I have a standing blender, so I strained it directly into the blender pitcher.

 Cut up your butter into 1 Tbsp pieces. Ya this tart has a crap ton of butter in it...

 Puree the butter into the lemon mixture until smooth by adding the chunks one at a time and blending after each addition.

 Pour into your pie crust. Decorate with berries and let set in fridge for a couple of hours.

 Sprinkle with powdered sugar when ready to serve.

I say this rarely but it was worth the butter load...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

So much quiche in my life

I go through a lot of phases, and recently I've been in a quiche phase. Ya I know, how very bougie of me. I'm especially fond of a recipe for spinach, mushroom, and ham quiche from the Amy's Bread cookbook, which is a fantastic bakery in NYC that always has lines out the door in the morning. My eyes roll back in their sockets whenever I take a bite from their baked goods, which I miss terribly. I made this quiche twice in the past week already, and it has catapulted me into a quiche-making frenzy in which I'm constantly scouring Tastespotting for quiche recipes in my limited free time. This recipe is that good, oh yes.

Recipe adapted from Amy's Bread

Notes: The original recipe is for one deep dish quiche, but since I don't have a deep dish pie tin, my adjusted ingredients list is halved from the original recipe. Also, I was too lazy to make the crust from scratch, so while the recipe linked above has instructions on how to make the crust, I just used Pillsbury pie crust, found in the dairy aisle next to the refrigerated cookie dough. No shame.

  • 1 pie crust (see notes above)
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 4oz white mushrooms (approx half of one of those boxes), cut into 1/8" slices
  • 1/2 of a medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced ham
  • 5oz frozen chopped spinach (approx half of a frozen package)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Dash of ground cayenne

Preheat oven to 350F. Line pie tin with the crust and trim off the edges. Cover with foil, and add weights, then pre-bake for 12 minutes. Remove foil, bake for an additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned, then remove from oven and allow to cool.

While your pie tin is baking in the oven, you can prep the filling. Heat oil over medium heat and stir fry your mushrooms + dash of salt/pepper until the mushrooms release water and begin to brown, which should take above 5 minutes.

Add onions and minced garlic, and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Add spinach and ham, and cook briefly until cooked through. I used straight up frozen spinach instead of taking the time to defrost and drain it, so I cooked until the spinach clumps were completely defrosted broken up. Remove from heat.

After a couple minutes, when the mixture is no longer piping hot, stir in the shredded cheese.

To make the custard, combine half and half, eggs, salt, cayenne. Beat well with a wire whisk or fork until well combined.

Once the crust has cooled, it's time to fill! I like putting my tin in another tin to protect against accidental spillage. It didn't happen but it could. Loosely pack in the spinach and ham filling until it's near the top.

Pour in the custard filling until it's within 1/8" of the top of the pastry.

Transfer pan to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the eggs in the filling begin to puff up and the center jiggles a little bit when shaken. Allow to cool until warm before cutting and consuming, or else risk oozage.

This pic is from my first quiche, which sliced rather nicely. My second one was not as lucky since I cut it preemptively, and hence it isn't pictured. It was still delish.

My friend made this meme. All I want is a boy like this, too much to ask? ;( sigh...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Hash

There's this restaurant a couple blocks away from my apartment called North Star Cafe and it's one of my favorite brunch places (not to be outshone by Katalina's Cafe Corner however). I dined there with a friend awhile back and ordered their sweet potato and turkey hash, which was amazing but also seemed super simple to reproduce at home. 

I frolicked around the internet for direction on how to reproduce this dish at home, and found simple steps from The Kitchn so I gave it a try, although I didn't follow their measurements. This is one of those recipes where you have to do lots of prep the evening before to make the hash, and then bake it with the eggs when it's food time. Also, I was trying to find sweet potatoes but they only had Japanese yams at my local Asian supermarket, which is why it looks like I'm cooking regular white potatoes when they are indeed sweet. I guess I could rename this Japanese yam hash, but it doesn't have the same ring to it.

SWEET POTATO (Japanese yam) HASH
Adapted from The Kitchn

  • 2 small/medium onions
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 small/medium sweet potatoes or yams I guess
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound of your favorite diced breakfasty protein - I used ham, but you can also do turkey or sausage or chorizo if you're feeling fancy
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • Pepper
  • When ready to serve: eggs, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F (I used 450F since the directions said so, but they came out more burned than I would've liked, so this adjustment is just my suggestion). Cut up onions in half, peel, and thinly slice into half moons. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, and when it begins to foam, add onions and sprinkle with a teeny bit of salt. Lower the heat slightly and cook onions down until caramelized, which should take ~30 minutes while stirring occasionally.

While the onions are cooking down, cube your unpeeled potatoes into 1/2" pieces.

Mince your garlic, toss in with the onions, and stir. Btw, the garlic press is my favorite kitchen tool of all time. I never realized that this is what has been missing from my life until we got one...

When you have about 5-10 minutes left (since you're cooking your onions for about 30 minutes), add your protein to the onions and cook for the remaining time. If you're using sausage pieces, make sure to remove from casing, break into small pieces, and brown with the onions. I used ham so I didn't worry about this. 

Toss your potatoes with rosemary and olive oil.

Mix everything together (potatoes with the sausage/onions) and remove from heat. You can do this in the bowl, but I used the wok cause my wok is enormous.

Line a cookie sheet with foil, grease, and transfer mixture in a thin layer to the lined cookie sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes until potatoes are softened and browned.

As I said earlier, I baked at 450F for 30 minutes so they came out more burned that I would've liked -- although still tasty, just more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons than I would've preferred. So I recommend 400F for 30 minutes and checking occasionally, unless you like them this way.

Transfer to a tupperware and keep in fridge for up to 5 days until ready to use.

I did all the above steps the night before. On brunch mornings, preheat the oven to 400F when you wake up. Transfer a relatively thin layer of the hash mixture to a baking dish, and make wells to crack the eggs into. Sprinkle eggs with a bit of salt and pepper.

 Bake for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are hot and the eggs are baked through (I like mine a bit gooey). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, which I forgot to do, and dig in :D

Ommm. I still have about two servings of hash left in the fridge for meals later on the week which I'm excited about.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

October Recent Eats and Updates

I finished another exam block last week and had time to update. This week has been killer too, but I figured that if I didn't write this up now, it'd probably never get posted so here goes. On one hand, I'm sad that I don't have time to update and post pics as often as I'd like (dinner is always a rush, so I rarely have time to take pics as I cook). But on the other hand, the posts are a tad more exciting since I have more news to share :)

Decorated my room, Chicago on the west and NY on the east! I followed these instructions that I found via Pinterest and luckily I wasn't let down. I shared this pic on Fb and got 60+ likes O_O

New leather jacket, likey? I've always wanted one, and ugh I love it so much that I don't want to take it off.

I met a rando with the exact same hat as me for Halloween, so I harassed him for a pic. I was grumpy cat btw, and my sign says, "I went to a Halloween party once... It was awful."

Transitioning to food pics now...

Ribfest postluck -- a couple of my friends each made ribs and then feasted/voted. My ribs won >:D

Catered food at school events can be quite fancy. Exhibit A: deviled eggs, skewered chicken with snap peas, pinwheel wraps, and cantaloupe. Yum.

Pre-exam brunch with the roomie: slow roasted pork and egg sandwich, and nutella pancake balls. And they tasted even more amazing than they sound, imagine that. Katalina's Cafe Corner is my new favorite brunch spot, no contest. 

I don't even know what these desserts are called because the place was too fancy, but I went here twice in less than three days :/ I feel crazy lucky for living near such a deliciously bougie bakery with the most amazing pastries. Pistacia Vera has my heart. 

And lastly, some scones that I made recently from a recipe on David Lebovitz's website. They're white chocolate and sour cherry, and while he didn't develop the recipe himself, he gets props for having good taste. My roomie said these are good enough to be sold at Pistachia Vera ;P

Cheers til next time!